Dubuc turns to crowdfunding to bring electric car to market

Kevin Huebler, special to
Tomahawk sports car.
Source: Dubuc Motors

A new electricity-powered high performance vehicle is on the horizon, but it's not from the company you might expect.

Quebec-based Dubuc Motors is aiming to release its new luxury electric supercar, the Tomahawk — a car that can accelerate from 0-60 mph in three seconds and boasts a 300-mile range. The Canadian start-up plans to raise $25 million in order to produce the vehicle by 2017 — but is planning to do it via crowdfunding rather than venture capital.

The carmaker is blazing a trail set by Elon Musk's Tesla Motors, which got its start as one of the companies financed by the Department of Energy loan guarantee program. In fact, Dubuc sees the Tomahawk as an attempt to complement Tesla in a market for electric vehicles that's expected to soar in the next decade.

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"We want to complete Tesla's line, not compete with it," co-founder Mike Kakogiannakis told CNBC recently. "The Tomahawk is designed to be the only '2+2' all electric sports car with performances to the likes of Tesla," he said, speaking of a car configuration that has three passenger seats in addition to the driver.

"The demand for such a car is currently not being met," Kakogiannakis added.

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Dubuc isn't the only motor company to attempt to crowdfund its way to success, but it is the first to try to raise funds for a fully electric car. In 2015, Elio Motors turned to the platform to raise funds for its $6,800 three-wheeled two seater, which it expects to start delivering this year.

By comparison, the Tomahawk will cost a whopping $100,000, and aims to be the world's first electric supercar that will feature two seats in both the front and back of the car. The vehicle "is a blend of business and pleasure, connecting man and machine to his virtual world," the company says.

Like a Tesla, Dubuc's Tomahawk doesn't come cheap. Yet Kakogiannakis believes the car will appeal to a different set of customers that aren't necessarily part of Tesla's demographic.

"Although Tesla's current line of cars deliver breathtaking accelerations, our target market is addressed to those looking for that supercar look and feel," said Kakogiannakis.

The Tomahawk "was engineered to also address a problem automakers keep ignoring," namely big and tall consumers who have trouble fitting into compact sports cars, he said. If the Tomahawk takes off, "the big and tall can now fit in a sports car comfortably, opening a market for professional athletes," Kakogiannakis said.

An increasing number of car companies are beginning to follow in Tesla's tire prints with energy efficient, environmentally friendly cars. The number of electric vehicles on the market, including hybrids and other electric vehicles, is expected to jump from 2.6 million vehicles sold in 2015 to six million by 2024, according to Navigant Research.

With automakers such as Porsche making hybrid supercars that sports car enthusiasts enjoy, there are some who are skeptical the Tomahawk will find a receptive market.

"The biggest supercar manufacturers are switching to hybrid," said to Brett David, CEO of Prestige Imports in Miami. "It is a perfect mix. I think a fully electric car may be a little foolish at the time."

It may take some time before fully electric cars are adopted by drivers, David said.

"There are still people that want the Paganis and the Koenigseggs," he said, speaking of two elite European sports car brands.

"I think we will see more electric cars because it appeases more people, but I do not think consumer confidence will allow for full electric [supercars] right now," he said. "In five to 10 years, there could be a market for it."